By Todd Johnson
In Nashville, there is more than one top collegiate baseball team. Over the past few years, Vanderbilt produced a national champion and two number one picks in the draft. However, there is another school in town. Last year, Lipscomb University defeated Vanderbilt 1-0 in the first game of their series and begin garnering national attention for some of their top players. Three of them went to the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2016 and became all-stars. Two of them are now entrenched in the top 100 in a couple of prospect lists for the draft.
Speedy outfielder Outfielder Michael Gigliotti is ranked number 23 on MLB Pipeline’s top draft prospects. Last summer he was named the top prospect in the Cape Cod League. Early rankings often fluctuate by the time the draft gets here. For the Cubs, Gigliotti could be sitting right there at number 27 staring Chicago in the face. The 6’1” and 177 lb outfielder still has room to fill out on his frame.
Here is what Jim Callis had to say about Gigliotti’s talent.
In a lean year for college position players, Gigliotti offers the best combination of hitting ability and athleticism. He makes contact from the left side of the plate, uses the entire field and can bunt for base hits. His bat speed is fairly ordinary, though he shows some ability to drive balls into the gaps.
At just 20 years old, he is an intriguing talent, some would say an ascending talent. There’s a lot of projection left as he could still put on 10 to 15 pounds to gain some power. I think the only drawback to his game is his lack of power. However, when you hit over .400 with an OBP over .500, I think you can look past his lack of power.
Here’s an interview where Gigliotti discusses his speed and swing. He’s pretty savvy for playing for such a somewhat small, unknown school.
Brady Puckett is a box checker as he fits the mode of what the Cubs are looking for in a pitcher. He could easily be sitting there in the second round waiting for the Cubs to pick him. At 6’9″ tall, Puckett physically resembles several Cubs pics of the last three years under Jason McLeod. Here is a snippet of his bio from the Lipscomb website:
The 6-foot-9 hurler anchored the rotation for Lipscomb with a 9-2 record and a 2.93 ERA. Not only did the Murfreesboro native lead the league in wins, he was also tops in strikeouts (101) and pitcher of the week honors (4). His 107.2 innings logged paced the conference and ranks as the second most frames thrown in a single season in program history.
Despite playing in a small Atlantic Sun Conference, Lipscomb actually faced off against some of the best baseball schools in the country including Vanderbilt and Georgia. It’s not like Lipscomb is coming out of nowhere; it’s a real program playing real D1 schools.
Pitcher Jeffrey Passantino might not be as highly ranked as the other two, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that physically he pretty much is what he is. Gigliotti still has room to grow and develop just as Puckett’s pitching skills could improve. Passantino has already maxed out physically. On the other hand, Passantino is known for his bulldog mentality on the mound and could be an excellent relief arm.
One trend Cubs have shown the past few years is that they tend to double up when scouting. They’re not just there to check out one player. They check out everyone. And with three prospects from one school, the Cubs could build relationships with all three the next six months.